Dates, dates dates… IVA, Seminar and ARDS confirmed

You wait ages for one date and then 3 come along all at once.

My IVA is now confirmed for 26th November – later than hoped for but, to be honest, not too much of a surprise. May just about get to drive the car by December.

I’ve had it confirmed that I’m in Group 1 of the Academy next year (obviously the best group ;)).

The Academy seminar day, where we get to learn all about the 2013 Academy, ask questions, meet our competitors and the Caterham Motorsports team, is scheduled for the 24th November. Really looking forward to meeting all the people I’ll be racing against.

Finally, we’ve also had our ARDS day confirmed – where we gain our racing licence (hopefully!) – Group 1 is on 13th Feb and Group 2 is on 20th Feb.

A few post updates…

A bit like the manual, as I got further towards completion, my blog posts got more and more brief and vague… I’ve gone back through the posts from day 16 onwards and have added in some minor updates to the content. These have been highlighted so you don’t have to read the whole lot again!

Still no IVA date….

The wait continues for my IVA date. Things are moving, just very slowly. I called VOSA to chase things today and that seemed to kick things into action as Caterham received a call to say that they could now book a slot.

It doesn’t give you any confidence when you have to ring and chase things. I now have no idea whether if I’d rung earlier in the week, things would have moved sooner.

I am being told that Caterham will book my date tomorrow and that the latest information is that the dates being issued are now at the end of November… arghhhh. Another whole month! So frustrating.

Day 19 Summary

Day 19 was all a bit of a blur! Essentially, it was just a case of finishing off a few minor bits of the build. Starting with the extension and connection of the fuel tank earth. The tidying away of the lamba probe wire. Pressuring the tyres correctly and getting the car on the ground!

UPDATE: I extended the fuel tank earth using a bit of wire we’d chopped off the number plate light. The Lamba wire was attached using some handy oblong shaped blocks that were in the internal trim fixing kit (along with a whole tonne of rivets and self tapping screws. the block has a hole in the centre for a self tapper and slots at either end to accept a cable tie. We used ally tape to route the cable up the edge of the drivers footwell and into the engine bay.

There was some final torquing and checks to carry out as well but nothing that took too long.

For such a small car, I was amazed how much we managed to faff about getting it onto the floor! I was all for manual labour, but then more sensible people than me suggested that slipped discs at this point were’t a good idea. So, instead we went the sensible route, first getting the rear of the car onto some ramps and then using the engine hoist around the front suspension to get the front lowered to the ground.

Once there, it is absolutely amazing just how low the car is! I’ve sat in a fair few Caterhams now and come across them often enough but having seen this one on high axle stands for over 2 weeks give you a different impression of the car and when it finally lands – it takes a little getting used to how low everything is!

The nosecone and bonnet went on. Not with perfect alignment of course! But they went on and the final step was to stick the front badge into place. It was a proud moment and it was just brilliant to finally see the final product sat on the drive.

I had to get the car into position for the trailer so even got to drive it – just for a short while!

I was a little concerned that my brake light warning light was on… it appeared to go out when the handbrake was up and go out when it was down. Opposite to how you might expect. I will have to add this to my list of things for Caterham to look at for me but at this moment, I’m hoping that I simply attached the wire to the handbrake on the wrong terminal.

It wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped getting it onto the trailer and the fit is extremely tight. However, it does fit and I’m all ready to deliver to Caterham for post build and IVA (just as soon as I get told my date.)

It was a strange come down to finally finish it. There were certainly mixed emotions. There will be another intolerable wait now whilst I await the car being declared road legal. And then, it will be all guns blazing :). Can’t wait.

Day 18 Summary

A late start for me today. There wasn’t a whole lot to get done but, seen as I didn’t get everything finished off today, there must have been more than I thought!

We got the front lighting wires insulated and tucked away into their final places. I got a local fabricator to chop down an allen key for me so I could finally torque up the left side engine mount. I cleared out all the empty boxes and rubbish from the garage.

We checked all the lighting was present and correct.

I also went through the IVA checklist as far as I could work it out! We hit some snags though… firstly we found that the earth lead for the fuel tank that had been fitted wasn’t nearly long enough to reach the bolt that it has to attach to. There were loads of small cap covers for bolts that I have no idea where where they go.

UPDATE: The manual doesn’t make it fantastically clear where the fuel earth is supposed to attach to and the new IVA guides picture is vague at best – but essentially, it attaches to the lower bolt that attaches the rear right wing in place.

A few more trim items were glued into place.

I also purchased som brake cleaner to get rid of some of the gunk that was on my discs when they arrived.

I also managed the near impossible task of attaching the wing mirrors to their SVA stalks and got them on the car. The rear view mirror also went in place.

UPDATE: The mirror stalks became easier to achieve once you notice that there is a flat edge to one of the components that matches a flat edge in the hole on the stalk. Lining up the flat edges together and then using some pointy pliers to pull it home before screwing in the screw. I realise that none of that makes much sense! but I don’t have the words to describe it clearly! Hopefully some of my mumblings will make sense if you’ve got the parts in front of you! Oh, and brake cleaner sprayed onto a clan cloth made a great glass cleaner before attaching the rear-view mirror to the windscreen.

Tomorrow, I want to get the car on its wheels and finished off to the level that I want to get it to Caterham. This is easily within reach and will just require a little focus!

Day 17 Summary

I spent the day at Buckmore Park karting in the fog and damp. It was excellent fun and, although it would have been nice to try the track in the dry as I’ve never been there before, I love wet karting so it was all good.

It was also great to meet up with Chris Middleton, a fellow Caterham Academy 2013 racer, who was working at Buckmore Park. We even managed to team up in the afternoon and form a super team for the enduro. We won, of course 🙂

When I got back to the garage, I found that Dad and Carole had made a fantastic job of the other cycle wing and the lighting. Having not left them with a key, they weren’t able to check that they had made the right connections but it all looked fantastic. Other than the wheels, it’s pretty much there now. Of course, there are, in reality, lots of little jobs to complete but at least it looks done!

UPDATE: Although I haven’t got the full details, the manual is not accurate (surprise :)). The wire colours don’t match up to what the manual suggests. However, as the wiring was done blind and was correct first time, I can only assume that a little logical thought and head scratching (plus perhaps a little luck) will see things to a good result. I’ve also heard from Steve Grubb that his earth cable wasn’t connected in his indicator repeater. He found this out ahead of threading it through the wing-stay but touching the wires up to the battery – that seems like an absolute gem of a tip! I would never have thought to try that.

Day 16 Summary

My plan for the weekend was to get a few bits and bobs finished off, but most importantly, to get the cheesemobile fired up and purring.

First up was the brakes. Starting with the hand brake attachments. So long as the adjuster was slackened off a whole load, these went on OK. The manual doesn’t make the final connection position that clear but a little close inspection and things became clearer.

UPDATE: The handbrake cable routing that the manual describes does work. Essentially, where the cable exits the tunnel, it gets attached by cable tie to the top rear of the differential. It then sweeps down alongside the fuel tank towards the outside of the car and goes under the de-dion tube – now heading toward the front of the car. It should run close to a chassis rail, where it can be cable tied to. It will then exit the side of the car forwards of the brake calliper and pointing towards the front of the car. You then need to bend it back towards the brake calliper where the end of the cable goes through an aperture and the square hole hooks over the hook on the calliper. You can pull out the cable end to get it over – but you might have to fully slacken the adjuster to make it easy.

Time to fill, bleed, repeat. There was one joint that I hadn’t tightened fully but other than that, things went OK. The pedal never really got solid though and the position is too low at the moment to allow heel toe. I’m hoping that after the brakes have been run, bleeding more will finally get everything solid.

One query for Caterham will be that the right rear bleed nipple took a different sized spanner than the others and also looked like it could be sucking in air as it never lost its air bubbles completely.

UPDATE: This was another job for two or more people ideally. I hear that the ezi-bleed kits are great if you are on your own. Again, the method in the manual did appear to work.

With the brakes done, it was onto the engine! It was a bit of a mission to go and get a couple of jerry cans and get them filled with fuel, but that done and the remaining fluids filled, the time came for the initial start.

Filling the coolant was helped by hand pumping the larger tubing to get it circulated around the system. Oil just needed 4.5 litres added through the top screw cap and petrol was simple enough, shoving around 17 litres into the tank.

Time to crank for oil pressure. The manual says this could take 30 seconds. It didn’t take anywhere near that long for me. Good pressure was present after around 5 seconds. A note on the immobiliser! It doesn’t mention this in the manual anywhere that I’ve seen! Essentially, use the LED on the dash as the main point of reference for what’s going on. Turn the key to position 2, so the dash lights up fully. If you don’t hear the fuel pump prime and the LED is manically flashing, then the immobiliser is still active. You need to put one of the immobiliser fobs next to the key barrel (where the immobiliser arial is wrapped around) and you should then hear the fuel pump start up. You can then press your starter button and everything should work…

Reconnecting the innertia switch and cranking for start this time. It took a while for everything to circulate through the engine but then it caught and was a sound to behold 🙂 A lot of family were around for the big moment and it was great that everything went so well.

UPDATE: When cranking for pressure and turning the engine over for first start, there were a lot of strange hissing and trickling noises as fluids found their way through the system.

Later in the evening, I finished off one of the rear wings. Mostly because it meant I could take a picture that made the car look almost complete! A couple of the bolts are hard to get in place but other than that, it’s fiddly but fairly straight forward.

Day 15 Summary

The morning was spent re-visiting the drivers side seat. I thought that we’d made progress as, after taking out the seat again and the front bolts again, we got to a position where we had all the bolts through the seat rails and through the floor. However, this wasn’t the eureka moment I thought it would be.

Sadly, with the bolts through, I am now no longer able to move the seats on the rails fully enough to get access to the back bolts. When trying to move the seat forwards, the release handle can’t be pulled up because the chassis bar of the lowered floor prevents it.

I can’t move the seat all the way back because the loose bolts in the rail snag. I thought I’d admitted defeat on this one the other day but now, I really do think that this is an impossible task for me. I just can’t see how it can be done.

So, I moved onto the rear brake callipers. Essentially, the last piece of the puzzle, other than fibreglass and lighting, still to do. Once I’d found the correct spacers and bolts, everything went together well. I did need a piston release tool to slacken them off so they would go over the pads fully but my local car store hired me one.

I did forget to insert the small metal clip that sits above the pads on right calliper, but it came off the car again without too much problem. Adjusting the handbrake is tiring on the hands!

Everything’s starting to look pretty final now. Once the rear wings go on (hopefully tomorrow) we’ll be so close I can smell the petrol… well – I guess I will have to smell petrol in order to get the thing fired up :). Another trip to halfords for a jerry can is in order.

The final hose went on the engine and fed into it’s catch-tank on the bulkhead.

Lessons for today are that the tunnel top goes in much easier before the seats are in and that the handbrake cable needs to not be attached – or at least fully slackened off – so that you can get the cover over the handbrake handle.

Dad did his normal sterling work, ably assisted by foreman Penny. He got the wire through the front left wing so that could be bolted into place. He also then started the nerve wracking process of drilling and positioning the front right wing and wing stay. Mum had her first sit in the car, although she couldn’t get her leg over… ahem. She also made a trek down to the car shop for some bits and pieces as well! Thanks Mum!

Day 14 Summary

2 weeks in now! A lot’s happened in those 2 weeks as well. I’ll get to putting the second video diary together to show the bits and pieces since week 1 but in the mean time, we made some good progress last night before coming to a grinding halt again!

The Fedex mad arrived, just as Jennifer at Caterham said it would, and all the bits I’d asked for were there – ready to move the car on a few stages. I now had the cap head bolts needed for the rear dampers and radius arms.

And that’s where the evening started. Firstly attaching the top damper bolt (making sure the aluminium spacer was inserted in the bush prior to fitting). With a little jiggling, these went in far easier than I thought they would. The bottom bolts were a little more tricky as I had all the hub and drive shafts fitted. It was definitely a 2 man job, with one person holding and manoeuvring  the hub assembly, while the other pushed and rotated the bolt into place. Just as I was tightening the second of these long bolts, a had a sinking feeling that I’d forgotten a washer and a check of the manual confirmed this. It actually turned out to be a pretty simple step to insert these and get the bolt back in.

Whilst under the car, I connected up the rear brake hose from the de-dion to the car.

On to radius arms. Again, with a little jiggling and encouraging, these went in without too many dramas. And, other than the brake callipers, that was the rear suspension in place. You can’t finally tighten some of the bolts until the weight of the car is taken by the axle. You do this a little later in the build.

With everything having gone so well, we moved confidently onto the seats! It wasn’t long before we realised that this was going to be an adventure all of itself. They are tight to get into place, especially with the roll cage on and then you have to feed all the harness straps through as you lower. We started with the passenger seat and with a lot of jiggling and pushing, luck and just a small amount of grinding, we got that attached.

UPDATE: Don’t be tempted to tighten a bolt if it isn’t aligned correctly with the hole. If you accidentally cross thread the bolt, the riv-nuts that you are putting the bolt into are not very strong. If you apply too much torque to the bolt, the riv-nut will break and start spinning in the rail. At that point, you’re looking at a new seat rail to get it fixed.

Then onto the drivers seat… this put up a hell of a fight and it defeated us (well me really as I ran out of patience). Trying the method in the manual, we got the front bolts loosely in place. We then ran the seat as far forward as we could get it and went to put in the rear bolts – only to find that the seat wouldn’t go far enough forward to allow access to put the rear bolt in place.

Out came the seat and we pre-inserted the rear bolts into the rail. We put the seat back in and got the front bolts in and tight (that makes it sound simple but it actually was virtually impossible to get the allen key onto the bolt head to allow tightening and my hand is very bruised this morning because of it!)

When we went to the rear bolts, they weren’t magically in line (of course they weren’t!) and the pre-inserted bolts appeared to stop the seat from sliding properly to allow finger access to wiggle and jiggle.

At that stage, it felt like an impossible task and when you hit the ‘impossible’ stage, I’ve found it’s best to stop and come back to it with a fresh head another day. So that’s what we did!

UPDATE: Although I never got the drivers seat in place, I know that Steve Grubb simply substituted the cap head bolts that Caterham supply for the job with hex-head bolts that wedge themselves in the rail. That way, you don’t need to get an alen key on the bolt to be able to tighten everything. If I were having my time again, this is the route I would take with them. I also believe it is the method the factory use if you get them to do it for you. You could also be brave and bent the adjustment bar to allow greater movement of the seat forwards. As the seat moves forwards, you can’t pull up the bar as it gets trapped by the chassis rail. If the bar was given a ‘v’ shaped kink downwards, this might solve the problem. I wasn’t confident enough to give this a go but it might be worth keeping in mind – especially if you are not tall as putting the seat in all the way forward, will mean the seat can’t be adjusted backwards any more.